One of these days, in the course of what remains of his ministerial career, Education Minister Shaik Baksh will probably do himself a serious injury if he persists in the practice of putting his foot in his mouth. From time to time, Mr. Baksh comes up with these mind-boggling pronouncements which surely lead us to believe that he gets his inspiration from another planet.
His latest extra-terrestrial theory is that there exists an “overly dependency syndrome” in which parents look to government for everything. Surely this amazing assertion must have been influenced by the fact that the Minister was at the time on stage at the Theatre Guild. Pure theatre, Minister! Pure theatre!
Mr. Baksh surely ought to have been advised by his retinue of specialists that those parents who look to government to help with the education of their children do so only out of a sense of what we in Guyana loosely refer to as ‘can’t help.’
Consider these observations, Mr. Baksh! An increasing number of parents who can afford it – and even some of those who can’t – are opting to send their children to private institutions of learning. In fact the mushrooming of these institutions, some of which are decidedly fly by night in nature, is itself testimony to the growing lack of confidence in the state system.
And where parents must, through force of circumstances, depend on the state to help with their children’s education, how many of them are not opting for after-school private lessons in order to subsidize what the state has to offer?
And how many parents, Mr. Baksh, are not simply opting out of the bureaucratic requirements associated with the free school uniform distribution and simply facing the stores themselves?
And what about those parents, Mr. Baksh, who sell endless raffle tickets and hold numerous cake sales to help purchase school necessities and sometimes effect repairs which is, in fact, the job of the Ministry of Education?
And if the Ministry has no control over finding the monies to look after schools outside of Georgetown, that Mr. Minister, is hardly the fault of the parents whom you are asking, it seems, to mobilize themselves into work gangs and spend time repairing endless broken windows, leaking roofs and missing floorboards in order to forestall serious injury to their children while the Ministry contemplates the purchase of computers which, of course, are absolutely meaningless to schools that have no electricity. If parents are to become full-time maintenance men and women for state schools, Mr. Baksh, where are they to find the wherewithal to support their children?
And who says, Mr. Baksh, that those schools in Georgetown that are under the direct control of the Ministry of Education are in good physical condition. Yourself and your advisors should be checking out those schools in this very capital that lack reliable running water, have sanitary blocks that are so filthy that some children refuse to use them and probably have as many broken windows as windows that are intact. And what about some of them that have become overrun by stray animals that have turned the premises into homes and toilets?
It may well be that you mean well, Mr. Minister, but surely your proclivity for getting your comments into the newspaper is getting the better of you every time you make a public pronouncement!